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Re: orion: DSS pottery

Dear Greg,
Yes there is little doubt, as you say, that dating this pottery at 
Qumran would be very important, as it has been in the past **if** 
only we could do that. The logic of your statement is impressive: 
almost as much as your use of the subjunctive mood to express all the 
things we could and might find out if only de Vaux's excavation were 
as careful as the rhetoric he uses in his reports.  However, your  
*if* clause finally does you in as -- given the lack of stratigraphic 
digging at Qumran, we can not have the confidence often attributed to 
this chronology.
Similarly, because Fred calls lamps "Herodian," we should not think 
of the time of Herod for a dating of such pottery anymore than we 
should think of Herodian scripts as belonging to some such period. 
Herodian lamps have a chronological spread of at least a hundred 
years. Nor was the form invented to celebrate his birth.

> It strikes me that it is amazingly naive to imagine that something as
> distinctive as a pottery type which seems to have been attested, if
> sparsely, in disparate sites in a large region, should have existed for
> only a short period of time. The jars in question will have been produced
> for a considerable period of time. Only *one* of the contexts in which they
> were found reveals a useful stratigraphy, namely in the Period I floors in
> the Khirbet. That will of course not be able to tell us the date of
> production and/or use of jars found in locales, such as the caves, which
> lack stratigraphic information. Some Herodian lamps have been found in the
> caves, too, which tells us, obviously, that people visited the caves during
> the Herodian period. Well, the caves were apparently also visited by Jewish
> searchers around 800 CE, according to the letter of Timothy I, and we know
> that Muhammed ed-Dhib et al. also investigated them in 1947 and later. Why
> anyone imagines they remained hermetically sealed and preserved until our
> times is a mystery to me. Of course, it is *easier* to work with a theory
> with only a few variables, but that doesn't argue well for its
> verisimilitude.
> Fred Cryer